There are some good reasons to require state workers to live in New Jersey ( tax revenue ). But there are also reasons why states and cities are sometimes reluctant to impose them ( border wars…if NJ does it, will NY or PA follow suit? That could actually result in less revenue for the state ).
But beyond the merits of such legislation is the human element. To tell roughly 70,000 state workers where they should live is a bold move. Especially for folks who have kids in the local school system or may need to live near an ailing relative.
So when Senator Donald Norcross introduced a bill to require residency for not just state workers but all public employees, I heard from some people who questioned whether or not he lives in the district he currently represents in the State Senate ( as required by law ). Some of these people were political opponents, others were simply annoyed about the legislation. In other words, they might very well have had an agenda. By Norcross’ own estimate his legislation would force roughly 10,000 people to relocate.
But like any good journalist…I followed the lead. According to tax records, Norcross owns a home in Voorhees which is in the 6th district. Norcross represents the 5th. And according to FEC records, as recently as 2008 Norcross made a political contribution of $2300 to Rob Andrews ( who was then challenging Frank Lautenberg in the US Senate primary ( wow, remember that? i sorta didn’t ). That contribution listed the same Voorhees address.
Anyway, we sought some clarification from the Senator about where his primary residence is and the timeline under which he established it. The conversation was not initially very productive. It ended without an on-the-record statement, but with an invitation to visit the Camden apartment where Norcross currently resides. It’s a rental unit downtown.
So seeing that I would get no on-cam interview without said visit, we decided to take a trip to Camden. And we got to see the place ( which is quite nice, I might add…although it wouldn’t have killed him to pour me a drink …just kidding ). While at his apartment, Norcross confirmed that he had moved into the district in the fall of 2008. In 2009 Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts announced that he was retiring, and Norcross was selected to run as his replacement. He won that Assembly seat, and was subsequently elected by the Camden County and Gloucester County Democrats ( just a few days after being sworn into the Assembly ) to take over the senate seat being vacated by Dana Redd.
As for the Voorhees home, Norcross says he has been trying to sell it. A very plausible explanation given the current market.
So I guess to wrap up this little yarn, I’ll conclude the following: Where someone lives is a personal choice. Not sure it needs to be legislated. And there is little doubt Norcross lives where he says – which is in district. Although some have noted the irony that they guy who introduced a residency requirement had to settle his own residency before taking office and introducing that legislation.
Full disclosure: I am an out of state resident, so technically I would be affected by this legislation ( and for the record, the Norcross camp let me know that they knew that when we discussed this story ).
Although now I am hearing that current employees would be grandfathered in if the legislation ever sees that light of day. So, if that is the case, it would not affect me at all.